May 22, 2024
Change is hard. Cultural change in a large, complex organization, like the U.S. military, is incredibly hard. Contrary to misconceptions, you can't just order someone to abandon their thoughts, habits and beliefs. Tom Galvin shares his experience and highlights just three of the many perils of leading cultural change in the military. It's an extremely relevant topic, as the Chief of Staff of the Army highlights the changes necessary to maintain superiority on and off the battlefield.

Culture change is hard, possibly the hardest form of change that any large complex organization like a military can undertake.

In 2024, culture change has become a theme among all the services. Army leaders are prioritizing strengthening the profession and instituting a “warfighting culture.” Same with the Air Force, Space Force, and Navy.  But culture change is hard, possibly the hardest form of change that any large complex organization like a military can undertake. And as retired army officer and organizational psychologist Lenny Wong hilariously showed in a classic opinion piece, “Changing the Army’s Culture of Cultural Change,” it is much harder than mandating the capitalization of “Soldiers” or appending “of Excellence” to an organizational name.

Even when the culture change is meaningful and brings the organization closer to its espoused values, it is still hard. Consider some common themes addressed by senior leaders pushing for a “warfighting culture”:  physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual resilience;  capability and capacity to perform assigned missions through realistic training, professional education, etc.; placing the mission before self; and fighting legally, ethically, and honorably in accordance with the laws of land warfare. Why must such obvious things require the most senior leaders to personally reinforce them? Shouldn’t everyone “get it” already? Or at least most everyone?

My answer is because leaders have long misunderstood culture change. I will offer three of the most common “perils” of culture change here, noting they are just three among dozens that I’ve encountered over my professional life. I will also offer some ways to mitigate these perils, but that is far easier said than done. Sorry, there will be no silver bullets here.

And that leads me to the first peril. The “silver bullet” mindset, in which leaders assume there’s one simple thing they can do from which the desired culture change will naturally follow. This mindset typically occurs when leaders are under pressure and lack the time to invest in the messy process of doing culture change. They may succeed in superficially embedding the desired culture through their messages, but the necessary reinforcement is left to someone else. Unfortunately, this can result in the vision being lost as subordinate leaders garble the message, ignore it, or pursue their own preferred message.

The second peril is a similar dynamic but in relation to the ends—the myth of the “strong culture.” Strong cultures are those in which everyone enacts the desired norms, values, procedures, and ethos in the same way. A well-known example comes from NASA in the 1960s, when a janitor proclaimed, “I’m not mopping the floors, I’m putting a man on the moon!” The statement, and the proud sentiments accompanying it, demonstrates both commitment to the organization and placing high value on individual contributions from everyone, regardless of status.

Such cultures can seem appealing to militaries because they align with traditional conceptions of good order and discipline. However, strong cultures are not necessarily good things. In fact, they can be quite dangerous. In a famous study of a 1990s tech firm, Gideon Kunda showed how toxic a centrally-managed and imposed strong culture can become. Workers were expected to subordinate their very being to the company. Maintaining any sort of personal life was treated as disloyalty. Deviation from company messaging was not tolerated. This was a case of demanding absolute submission rather than compliance. Hence, the pursuit of a stronger culture should allow for some variation and avoid harmful conformity.

The third peril occurs when commanders are charged with the responsibility for the culture within their units yet lack any influence over the greatest barriers to culture change. A research project by Army War College students participating in the Carlisle Scholars Program identified eight such barriers: complacency due to disempowered leaders, liability avoidance, ambivalence, or resistance to change; excessive administrative complexity; overly restrictive rules of engagement; overcommitment of units; over-reliance on enterprise technological solutions that are slow in fielding and do not work; perverse incentives discouraging desired behaviors; existing unsolved climate problems; and inconsistent top-down messaging. Those barriers often emanate from “on high,”—joint and service staffs major commands, or similar entities.

Concerns about over-bureaucratization of the armed forces have been voiced for decades. Don Snider’s seminal works on military professionalism show how “obedient” bureaucracies undermine military professionalism. Lenny Wong and Steve Gerras have shown how the accumulation of administrative demands rob commanders of their capacity to perform basic command tasks like managing training, leading soldiers, and developing future leaders.

When we put these three perils together, we end up with precisely what Wong poked fun at—a centralized, bureaucratized effort to impose an engineered culture change that too many members do not identify with. But the supposed antidotes to these perils—invest more time, be more flexible, and empower commanders more— do not necessarily lead to better culture change. The pressures that leaders are under to fix culture problems tempt them to rely on magical, silver-bullet solutions. Those same pressures also mean that leaders often devote energy to culture change for a limited time until distracted later by other requirements. The problem might go away for a moment, but it comes back.

To increase the chances of successfully changing culture, leaders need to understand three truths about culture change. Not all leaders will be comfortable with these truths.

The first truth is that bad habits are rarely broken. Rather, they are weakened over time until the organization is postured to cease using them. One may deem a process, system, structure, or other cultural artifact to be ineffective, inefficient, inappropriate, or wrong and therefore should be eliminated. Consider the recurrent problem of excessive mandatory training requirements and efforts to keep them at feasible levels so soldiers and commanders are not overwhelmed. One might find something to drop off, however new requirements eventually get added back and the Army soon finds itself back where it was before, with too much mandatory training!  Instead, weakening bad habits is done by applying sustained pressure. This may mean changing the message on occasion as the situation changes.  

Some may become confused.

Yet changing the message can be risky if members are not primed for it. Some may become confused. Thus, the second truth of culture change is the importance of helping members through the transition to the new culture, including preparedness for handling the inevitable challenges as they arise. Transition is the mental and emotional state that members undergo when letting go of the old and embracing the new. But what seems a simple movement is anything but. Scholars on transitions have pointed out the disquieting gap that comes about when the old ways have been broken but the new ones are still taking hold or under construction. The gap gets wider when change efforts inevitably hit snags—the new software is delayed or the division of responsibilities among new offices is unclear—that potentially create confusion or uncertainty. A good transition plan warns members of what to expect, so the reaction is not one of incapacitating surprise but anticipation, proactive resolution, and continued movement forward. Not having a good plan can result in members being so uncomfortable and anxious in the middle of the effort, that they might get disillusioned or revert to the old familiar ways just to restore stability.

The third truth is that culture change often takes a contorted path from the current to the desired future state. An example I like to use is the “diet rollercoaster” that all too many of us know. The aim is to come in full compliance with the new ways (i.e., x fewer pounds). For most, the first step is instituting some new diet and exercise regimen, leading to the quick loss of water weight. Feeling good, the subject relaxes, and then in horror realizes that they gained some weight back. Renewed efforts are followed by plateauing and cravings. Progress looks like two steps forward, two steps back. Maybe the subject decides that the goal was too lofty and changes it (i.e., instead of x, maybe x/2 is okay). The result is a constant internal negotiation over the unacceptable current state and finding a feasible and acceptable goal, which may or might never be achieved.

I call it the “push” method of culture change because it describes when leaders try to push the organization out of the current state regardless of the consequences such as during crisis—e.g., sexual harassment and assault or information assurance and cybersecurity. The desired state may be easy to articulate, such as zero incidents, but members may differ on how that is operationalized. Also, the goals may shift due to unforeseen challenges or learning more about what works and what does not. Meanwhile, future major incidents may constitute a significant reversal of progress, causing leaders to take a different path to the goal. The onus is on leaders to keep persistent and not give up, especially as the organization’s current state remains unacceptable.

But what if the desired future state is clearer than the current state? The current discourse on warfighting culture is a good example. The characteristics of the desired culture are clear and understandable, easy to communicate, and generally unambiguous. The problem is that the current state is characterized by diffusion over how all the parts of the organization see themselves in that culture. Some may believe they have instituted a warfighting culture, so there’s little to do. Others may not see the culture as relevant to them and avoid getting involved. Still others may worry if the culture change is going to marginalize their contributions to the organization or pull resources away. For warfighting cultures, the operating force is more likely to jump on board, but what does it mean to the generating force, garrisons, family members, technical specialists, and others outside the combat arms mold? Where do they fit?

The “pull” method of culture change applies to this situation. Consider this metaphor instead of the diet: the organization is like a tractor-trailer and all the leaders of the various parts of the organization are pulling together on a rope tied to the bumper. For the organization to move forward, everyone has to see themselves in the culture. The desired future state must therefore be described as a set of principles or expectations that each part of the organization regardless of role, status, etc. can adopt the culture as appropriate to suit their unique missions and contributions to the organization, so long as they do not prevent the organization’s eventual achievement of the desired future state. For “pull” to work, subordinate leaders at all levels must feel empowered to contribute. Everyone must have a role to play.

I promised no silver bullet solutions, and sadly I kept that promise. For culture change to succeed, it requires continuous commitment and persistence, diligence in shifting away from bureaucratic approaches toward command-centered ones, and acceptance that there will be setbacks and reversals. Above all, culture change is a human endeavor, and compliance measures like mandatory training are only indicators of progress not necessarily true progress, which is found only in the hearts and minds of those we lead.


Be sure to check out the recently released White Paper produced by the AY24 Carlisle Scholars Program, A Proposed Framework for Expanding and Sustaining a Culture of Warfighting in the Army (White Paper)


Tom Galvin is Associate Professor of Resource Management in the Department of Command Leadership and Management as well as the leadership and management instructor for the Carlisle Scholars Program at the United States Army War College. He is the author of the monograph Leading Change in Military Organizations and companion Experiential Activity Book.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Army War College, the U.S. Army, or the Department of Defense.

Photo Description: Col. Curtis Taylor, commander of the 5th Security Force Assistance Brigade, addresses Soldiers of the 5th SFAB following a beret donning ceremony in front of “The Infantryman” memorial at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington, July 16, 2019. The brown color of the beret traces back through the history of the role in the Army and represents “the muddy boots reality of our mission as advisers,” said Taylor. “Your job is to be in the mud leading soldiers.” Serving in an SFAB is a voluntary assignment which recruits the most highly-qualified applicants and trains them extensively in languages, foreign weapons systems, communications and other military skills to better advise and assist partner nation forces in combined arms warfare.

Photo Credit: U.S. Army photo by Spc. John Weaver

10 thoughts on “SOME PERILS OF CULTURE CHANGE AND HOW TO AVOID THEM

  1. Great article and “top three” to keep in mind as leaders charged with change. Thanks Dr. Galvin!

  2. How might the “spirit of the age” — within which “warfighting” takes place today — how might this such “spirit of the age” effect the Services and their ability to achieve “cultural change” re: such things as “warfighting” today?

    As to this such question, might today’s “spirit of the age” be best described as the near-universal effort being made today by individuals and groups, by states and societies, and by regimes throughout the world today (to include such entities within the U.S./the West?) — this, to (a) prevent and to contain further political, economic, social and value change associated primarily with enhancing capitalism, markets and trade and (b) to recall and to roll back such political, economic, social and value changes that have already been made, but which these such entities consider to have undermined the degree power, influence, control, status, privilege, safety, security, etc., that they had previously enjoyed (or wished to aspire to).

  3. Thank you for an excellent question, B.C. You highlight one of several enduring tensions that all organizations face as they effect culture change — one being how the organization is perceived as in step or out of step with society (and those perceptions are in the eyes of the beholder — customer, stakeholder, what have you). Marianne Lewis (2000) has studies paradoxes and the one you present is part of a general class of paradox of “continuity” versus “change.” “Continuity” is not complacency necessarily but it is hard to tell them apart sometimes. The calls for rollback of value changes are easy to understand in this sense — they disrupt the predictability, reliability, and stability of the organizational setting, to the point that those favoring continuity are getting louder.

    All culture change runs up against this. Stakeholders favoring change will push harder for change, stakeholders fearing loss of continuity (especially if in their view it is existential) will resist, and (Piderit, 2000) there will be this mass of people in the middle who are conflicted — the ambivalent — who see the value of both sides and are trying to navigate the tension without being drawn into it.

    Paradoxes are troubling to leadership but this is one of those things separating strategic from small unit leadership. What concerns me is that the enterprise, bureaucratically, does not always give leaders the freedom to help their commands navigate paradox — they instead prescript the path too much. That’s a separate article for another time.

    1. Tom: Thank you so much for your reply to my question.

      As I look at these matters, this paragraph from your article — and especially the first sentence thereof — stood out most to me:

      When we put these three perils together, we end up with precisely what Wong poked fun at—a centralized, bureaucratized effort to impose an engineered culture change that too many members do not identify with. But the supposed antidotes to these perils—invest more time, be more flexible, and empower commanders more— do not necessarily lead to better culture change. The pressures that leaders are under to fix culture problems tempt them to rely on magical, silver-bullet solutions. Those same pressures also mean that leaders often devote energy to culture change for a limited time until distracted later by other requirements. The problem might go away for a moment, but it comes back.”

      From the perspective of that such paragraph — and specifically the first sentence thereof — a/the key to achieving a successful transition, this would seem to be getting one’s personnel to better understand — and to better appreciate, desire and identify with (i.e., “salesmanship”?) — the culture change that one wishes to achieve?

      As an aside, as to a problem related to such things as “ambition” and “change” more generally, I recently ran up on this poem and Britannica explanation thereof:

      …. all things stedfastnes doe hate
      And changed be: yet being rightly wayd,
      They are not changed from their first estate;
      But by their change their being doe dilate:
      And turning to themselues at length againe,
      Doe worke their owne perfection so by fate:
      Then ouer them Change doth not rule and raigne;
      But they raigne ouer change, and doe their states mantaine.

      [From Edmund Spenser’s “two cantos of mutabilitie”]

      Britannica explanation (under Mutabilitie Cantos, poems by Spenser):

      “After wreaking havoc on earth, overthrowing the laws of nature, justice, and policy, the poem’s central figure, the ambitious Titaness Mutabilitie, hopes to extend her reign to the heavens themselves. She denies the authority of Jove, whose reign is marked by order and beneficence. On Arlo’s Hill (Spenser’s Irish home), Dame Nature presides over the conflict between titaness and god; she concludes that all things in life may fluctuate, but their essence remains constant.”)

  4. With regard to my “spirit of the age” question, at my initial comment above , let us consider a somewhat different — but related to my initial thought above — “spirit of the age” perspective; this being, a “spirit of the age” when things have progressed to the point of near civil war:

    “Constitutionally, we are more divided as a state today than at any time since the 1860s. Strategically, the increasing lethality of weapons, coupled with the ability to organise mass movements through social media, and the decentralisation of both phenomena, are very worrisome. Moreover, in one crucial respect, the US today is not so different from the 1860s: that would be the paralysis of Congress and a lack of confidence in the two major parties, our Whigs (the establishment Republicans) and our Democrats (then divided regionally, now ethnically and racially).” (See near the end of the the September 28, 2022 “Engelsberg Ideas” article “The Decay and Renewal of the American Constitutional Order” by Philip Bobbitt.)

    Question: Can a “warfighting” culture change — which the Services are seeking to achieve today (this, so as to be better prepared to work and win in a great power competition/large scale combat operations setting?) — can and should this such “warfighting” culture change be even undertaken today — and/or hope to be achieved — this, in the “spirit of the age” setting described Professor Bobbitt above?

    1. Addendum: In a civil war (or, more correctly, a “development war”?) setting, would a culture change for the Services (and others?); would this need to be considered and pursued more along the lines that I present immediately below?:

      “a. An IDAD (Internal Defense and Development) program integrates security force and civilian actions into a coherent, comprehensive effort. Security force actions provide a level of internal security that permits and supports growth through balanced development. This development requires change to meet the needs of vulnerable groups of people. This change may, in turn, promote unrest in the society. The strategy, therefore, includes measures to maintain conditions under which orderly development can take place.” (Item in parenthesis above is mine.
      See Joint Publication 3-22, Foreign Internal Defense; therein, see Chapter II, Internal Defense and Development Program, and Paragraph 2, Construct.)

      Or does this such approach (whether done in a foreign country or here at home) fall directly into the the trap you describe at your “Tom Galvin says April 12, 2024 at 7:36 am” reply-to-comment above? Wherein, we come to undertake “a centralized, bureaucratized effort to impose an engineered culture change that too many members do not identify with.”? (Thus, the need to provide military personnel — with the proper skills and “culture” — who can deal adequately and effectively deal with those who are opposed to change?)

  5. Thank you again, B.C., for your insightful comments and questions. I would qualify the following as responses rather than answers as you touch on some very important and contentious points about the extent to which change can be managed in a meaningful way.

    I’ll start with a phrase that a long-retired scholar on organizational change told me — “change is hard because change is everywhere” — and then explained that the former is “change” as a verb, a deliberate act to achieve a goal, whereas the latter is “change” as a noun, the constant state of flux we feel in organizational life due to ordinary complexity. This speaks to a boundary that is perceived differently among stakeholders, leaders, and members. And so a fourth peril, not addressed in this article, constitutes who leaders (in their limited capacity to get things done) communicate their change efforts the most — up or down. Since they are most accountable to stakeholders, their messaging will tend to be written so as to communicate up. But as with online automated translation software, some messages just don’t make sense when communicated down afterwards.

    It is not just the messaging, though, it is the means available to higher leaders that differ from lower leaders. Higher-level leaders use the tools of bureaucracy — which I refer to as “programmatic levers” as they are components of programs — policies, “strategies” and “plans” (well, usually without the specificity that we associate with those terms), resource reallocation, training and education, reporting and assessments, data collection (often via survey), decision support modeling (e.g., wargames or “studies”), and others. Lower-echelon leaders are often left to make sense of the intent of these actions and incorporate as best as possible. Your illustration of JP 3-22 is a perfect example of the challenges this raises. While a doctrinal statement, I read it as closer to a policy — directing that “integration” happens, calling for “growth” and “balanced development” as measures of merit, cautioning about “unrest” as another measure of merit (a negative or counterproductive one), and “requires change” as a way of called for units to be adaptable. Ok, each of these has to be operationalized and that becomes a change effort, of which changing culture (which would include acceptance of the JP as a binding mission requirement and the institution of norms, values, etc. to put into action) is an implied task. And there another peril — culture change as an implied, not specified task.

    To then bring this to your earlier questions, there’s utility in pursuing a culture of warfighting even if achieving the desired culture is impossible and it is even futile to try. Going back to the “change as a noun” metaphor, we never want the organization to fall into complacency or stasis. Left to its own devices, all organizations (even “innovative” ones) will seek some sort of equilibrium, one where the faults of the organization become institutionalized (Kotter would say “ossified” — I like that term) and harder to unseat, which could be fatal in the beginnings of a war. So, a message that we are undertaking culture change could serve an important reminder that we must avoid complacency.

    Empowerment is, I think, essential. Leaders can be salespeople, but they just don’t have the reach. People have always been selective in their preferred information channels, and given the history of local commanders being out front as the personal symbols of units, local commanders need to be the face of any broad-based change movement from enterprise level. Thus, a part of the salesmanship is that the message should to a degree sell itself, rather than rely on higher leaders to sell the message directly and continuously. I guess you can say that I fall on the side of the titaness — others would prefer Jove’s orderliness.

    Now, to Bobbitt’s point — and this again reaches into the change-as-a-noun / verb divide — there’s a book I have but have only read partially called The Upswing which chronicles how the rise of civil society overcame that past division, and the book provides evidence that a renewal of civil society (albeit different and form) is potentially underway. From a professional standpoint, military leaders have to be informed about but independent of the political divisions. WAR ROOM has published pieces recently on the differences between being apolitical vs. nonpartisan so I won’t repeat that here, but without question the professionalism of the military is going to key on maintaining the trust of the American people, even if the situation means that such trust is more tenuous than in the past. There is a point where leaders simply have to say that we know we need to be the best warfighting force and we need to focus on building that regardless of what goes on elsewhere. The enterprise needs to fight for the resources, etc., and has to shield the operational units from distractions. It is hard, and always has been.

    1. Tom: Thanks again for this great information and reply.

      One other thought that I had; this was that:

      a. Specifically because the spirit of the age is civil war — here in the U.S/the West and possibly in other regions of the world also —

      b. And specifically because our great power enemies, accordingly, may see us here in the U.S./the West (and there in much of the rest of the world?) as being in a rare and unique period of weakness and vulnerability —

      c. Then, specifically because of these such matters, there probably is no better time — and/or reason — for us to get our GPC/LSCO “warfighting” culture and capabilities squared away today — and sooner rather than later.

      (THIS such reasoning/rationale, one would think, can not be so easily argued against by politicians — or population groups — today? And this such understanding, likewise, providing the U.S. military with the ability to again “rise above the fray” and continue to maintain the trust and confidence of the American people — in these unusual “spirit of the age” times?)

      1. In consideration of my thought immediately above, could we and should we not consider whether there might be a connection between such things as (a) efforts to achieve culture change, (b) great power competition and (c) civil war? As to that such topic, consider the following quoted items:

        “Liberal democratic societies have, in the past few decades, undergone a series of revolutionary changes in their social and political life, which are not to the taste of all their citizens. For many of those, who might be called social conservatives, Russia has become a more agreeable society, at least in principle, than those they live in. Communist Westerners used to speak of the Soviet Union as the pioneer society of a brighter future for all. Now, the rightwing nationalists of Europe and North America admire Russia and its leader for cleaving to the past.” (See “The American Interest” article “The Reality of Russian Soft Power” by John Lloyd and Daria Litinova.)

        “Compounding it all, Russia’s dictator has achieved all of this while creating sympathy in elements of the Right that mirrors the sympathy the Soviet Union achieved in elements of the Left. In other words, Putin is expanding Russian power and influence while mounting a cultural critique that resonates with some American audiences, casting himself as a defender of Christian civilization against Islam and the godless, decadent West.” (See the “National Review” item entitled: “How Russia Wins” by David French.)

        “During the Cold War, the USSR was perceived by American conservatives as an ‘evil empire,’ as a source of destructive cultural influences, while the United States was perceived as a force that was preventing the world from the triumph of godless communism and anarchy. The USSR, by contrast, positioned itself as a vanguard of emancipation, as a fighter for the progressive transformation of humanity (away from religion and toward atheism), and against the reactionary forces of the West. Today positions have changed dramatically; it is the United States or the ruling liberal establishment that in the conservative narrative has become the new or neo-USSR, spreading subversive ideas about family or the nature of authority around the world, while Russia has become almost a beacon of hope, ‘the last bastion of Christian values’ that helps keep the world from sliding into a liberal dystopia. Russia’s self-identity has changed accordingly; now it is Russia who actively resists destructive, revolutionary experiments with fundamental human institutions, experiments inspired by new revolutionary neo-communists from the United States. Hence the cautious hopes that the U.S. Christian right have for contemporary Russia: They are projecting on Russia their fantasies of another West that has not been infected by the virus of cultural liberalism.” (See the December 18, 2019, Georgetown University, Berkley Center for Religion, Peace and World Affairs article “Global Culture Wars from the Perspective of Russian and American Actors: Some Preliminary Conclusions,” by Dmitry Uzlaner. Look to the paragraph beginning with “Russia and the United States as screens for each other’s projections.”)

        Thus, as noted above, during the Old Cold War, when the U.S./the West was existentially threatened by the Soviet “Titaness,” the U.S./the West, accordingly and logically, took on the mantel of “Jove.” In that such scenario, those conservative elements throughout the world — who were also existentially threatened by the Soviet “Titaness” — these such conservative folks could and would be used (think “by, with and through”?) by the U.S./the Western “Jove;” this, to foment and/or to support civil wars and, thus, to try to thwart — or delay — the Soviet “Titaness’ ” culture change objectives.

        Whereas, post-the Old Cold War, and as noted in the quoted items that I provided above, the U.S./the West became the “Titaness,” and such diverse entities as Russia, China, Iran, N. Korea, the Islamists — and even conservative elements here in the U.S./the West — these folks became “Jove.” In that such scenario, those conservative elements throughout the world — who considered themselves to (now ironically?) be existentially threatened by a U.S./Western “Titaness” — these such conservative folks could and would be used (again think “by, with and through”?) by the new “Jove;” this, (a) to foment and/or to support civil wars and, thus, (b) to thwart — and/or to delay — the culture changes that the U.S./the Western “Titaness’ wished to achieve.

        (Thus, [a] a potential connection between efforts to achieve culture change, great power competition and civil war; one which [b] may cause problems for my “B.C. says: April 15, 2024 at 12:45 pm comment and thought above?)

        Question: Does some kind or version of this stuff not also occur in smaller settings — such as organizational culture change scenarios?

        1. Note that — from the perspective that I offer in my comment immediately above (think the connection between great power competition, civil war and culture change) —

          a. A unique problem that both civil society and our military face today,

          b. This would seem to be problem of a New/Reverse Cold War;

          A Cold War, thus, in which, this time, it has been the U.S./the West that has sought to achieve “revolutionary change” both at home and abroad, and a Cold War in which, this time, it has been such diverse entities as Russia, China, Iran, N. Korea, the Islamists, etc. — and even conservative elements here at home in the U.S./the West — who — thus (commonly?) existentially threatened — have (separately and/or together?) sought to “contain” and/or to “roll back” these such — highly disruptive and threatening — “revolutionary changes.”

          It is in THIS such unique environment, it would seem, that the U.S./Western militaries, and U.S./Western civil society, must find a way to operate and to succeed?

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